Raila Odinga to popularise Azimio at Coast

ODM leader Raila Odinga looks on as Mombasa politician, Suleiman Shahbal addresses ODM party delegates at Wildwaters in Mombasa. [Omondi Onyango,Standard]

ODM leader Raila Odinga is expected to return to the Coast region on Friday to popularise his bid and the Azimio La Umoja movement ahead of the August 9 general election.

Organisers of the tour, who include Taita Taveta governor Granton Samboja, said Raila will also commission the Sh98.6 million Nyangoro water project in Taita Taveta before addressing a rally in Mwatate town.

The water project, funded by the local county government and the World Bank, is expected to supply water to over 17,000 residents of Godoma, Kabete, Kwa Mnengwa, Kwa Ndeto, Kandala, Mwashoti, Msorongo and Maktau.

On Tuesday, Samboja said Raila was returning to the region to consolidate his support ahead of the elections.

"We are all ready to welcome him. He will commission the multi-million water project and later address a rally in Mwatate," said Samboja.

Raphael Mwawughanga, the ODM county organizing committee chairman for Taita Taveta County, said: “Raila will hold two meetings. He will be accompanied by five Coast governors. We are all fully involved in the preparations."

Among other things, Mwawughanga said, Raila will seek to defuse rising tension in ODM over nominations.

It will be the third time Samboja, who was elected on a Wiper party ticket in 2017, will be hosting Raila in the Taita Taveta.

Samboja, who has since broken ranks with his party boss Kalonzo Musyoka, is among five Coast governors currently backing the ODM leader's presidential bid.

However, Samboja's deputy Majala Mlagui is backing One Kenya Alliance (OKA) whose leaders are Musalia Mudavadi of Amani National Congress, Kanu chairman Gideon Moi who is also the senator for Baringo, Wiper leader Kalonzo and Moses Weteng'ula of Ford Kenya.

Raila's visit also comes barely a month after Jubilee Party candidate Donald Fundi, who was backed by ODM, won the Mahoo ward by-election.

The December 16 win has emboldened Samboja and Taveta MP Naomi Shaban who have teamed up to market Azimio la Umoja in their efforts to tame Deputy President William Ruto's popularity in the region.

Former governor John Mruttu, who is seeking to recapture the seat, is backing Ruto and his United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party.

ODM won two parliamentary seats in Voi and Mwatate constituencies in the last elections. The party also scooped the senatorial seat but lost in Taveta and Wundanyi constituencies to Jubilee and wiper parties.

Out of 20 elected MCAs, ODM won eight.

In September last year, Raila who doubles up as the Africa Union Special Envoy for infrastructure received a major boost for his march to State House after five coastal governors backed his presidential bid.

After a five-hour meeting, governors from ODM and Wiper led over 600 ODM delegates and supporters from other parties to declare their support for Raila's 2022 presidential bid.

But the leaders tabled a raft of demands among them a guarantee that Coast will get Internal Security and Foreign Affairs Cabinet posts. The region is pushing for a legally binding pre-election deal with Raila.